As we traveled East from the Trapdoor Spider’s lair on the 11th day of the month of Erastus, we were found and greeted by Kesten Garess and his group of Free Irregulars. Kestin warned us not to try and take down the [[:Stag Lord]] as he was recently given a charter to do so. When we prompted him to inform us further as to why he thinks he would have a better chance at the Stag Lord than we would, he mentions that there is a man on the inside who was going to help him and his irregulars defeat the lord. Kestin was to meet the insider on the 23rd of this month by the clawed tree.
I (Aji) asked Kestin if he would like us to help, rather than stand aside, as two groups working together would be more effective than working separately, and he appreciated the offer of assistance and asked us to meet him on the 24th at the same tree, to go over what the contact informs him and what the next course of action would be.
With that plan set, Kestin and his Free Irregulars ride off, leaving us with a new member of our group. Her name is [[:Lish Vanadala]], a druid who wished to join up with us and had traveled with Kestin until they were able to find us. Her skills will come in handy and her wolf looks like it would be a valuable asset to the group.
We then moved on, discovering a very large tree in the middle of the plains we were traveling through. The tree must have been 100 feet tall, perhaps higher, though also dead. As we got closer, we found a large hole under the tree. I say large because I could easily fit into it, but the taller members of our group were too big to walk in. It seemed to drop about twenty feet straight down. We talked amongst ourselves to form a plan to explore it, and considering we have a few gnomes and a halfling in the group, we decided to go down and explore a ways before calling back to the rest of the group. Krolmnite Belmont, Zarzuket, (Jake), and myself were lowered into the hole using a rope and the roots on the walls. Hernable stayed up above the hole attached to the other end of the rope and slowly lowered us down. As we reached the bottom, Zarzuket lit a sunrod so we could see as we moved along. We saw that the passage split to the left and right. We decided to follow the right passage to see where that would take us. After another short slope we reached an opening into a room.
In the room were Mites! Little blue goblin-like creatures playing a game. A horrible game, but it must have been a game to them judging from how they were reacting. They had built small catapults and were flinging caltrops at each other. There were only two in the room, and we probably could have surprised them if Zarzuket hadn’t fallen out of the hole and into the room. As he hit the floor, the rope became taut. Nite jumped in after his brother as the mites attacked. I untied myself from the rope so I could also help, but Hern must have heard the yells and thought we were in trouble. The rope quickly began to move backwards, pulling those still attached up and back 20 feet! I was able to quickly step out of the way or I would have been slammed into. I quickly called up for him to stop pulling as Zarzuket was still in the room by himself! As we made our way back to the room, we were able to quickly smite the mites and clear the room.
In the back of that room we found another tunnel leading down and further into the den. We found a root to secure a rope to and made our way down and to the entrance of another, larger room. Here we found a group of six mites teasing and torturing a kobold. I was thinking of a way we should surprise them when I saw a crossbow bolt fly out towards the mites. It missed, but it sure got their attention! They rushed over towards us, and we prepared ourselves for battle. Within a few short minutes we had defeated the mites, using the entrance to the room as a pinch point to keep them from overwhelming us. The kobold’s name was Mikmek and he was part of a group of kobolds captured recently trying to infiltrate the den to regain their god, a small dragon statue. Despite not liking kobolds, I felt that he could help us and he would follow his word as he swore to fight with us to find the statue and to thank us for saving his life. I healed his wounds and Nite gave him a sword.
We proceeded to explore the room and found that at one end there was a large chasm blocking us from going further. We found that the mites had set up hand holds in the ceiling, using them to cross the gulf. Zarzuket was first, and made it about halfway across before slipping and falling into the chasm. His brother, Nite, followed and made it himself, as did (Jake). As they were crossing, they discovered that some of the hand holds were false and would break if grabbed. Mikmek pointed this out, allowing us to cross safely. As I was about to cross, Zarzuket let out a long, piercing wail. Something was down in that chasm! Night jumped down to find a whiptail centipede attacking his brother. In one vicious bite the centipede knocked his brother unconscious and I could feel his life slipping from him. Hoping to dispatch the centipede quickly, we attacked. That’s when they started to fall. The centipede was too strong. Night fell, then (Jake) tried to fight, being the next to fall. I couldn’t help from where I was. I was too far away. But it was too dangerous to get any closer, and my skills with the scimitar strapped to my back are weak. I summoned a fire beetle to help defeat the centipede, and Mikmek followed his promise and jumped down with the centipede. My beetle was easily destroyed and Mikmek fell next. I was alone. The centipede had killed, yes, three of my companions, my summoned beetle, and the kobold addition to our party was now unconscious. Worse yet, I had run out of fire spells. I had used everything I had and there were no more. There was one option remaining. No help was coming. I had to save Mikmek. I had to save someone! I pulled the scimitar from my back, it’s blade still sharp and clean, unused since I had purchased it. I slid down the chasm wall, using the momentum of my run to cross the distance between myself and the centipede. As I ran I pushed forward with my scimitar and swung hard. I brought the scimitar down with every ounce of strength I had and felt the blade dig deep in the centipede. My eyes were closed, ready for the end yet it did not come. Opening my eyes I saw that my blade was deep in the centipede’s head. It’s eyes were lifeless. Rushing over to Mikmek I healed his wounds. We used each other as support and made our way to the next room where we heard the sounds of a battle already in progress.
Opening the door, we saw the larger members of our party hunched over, having just finished taking care of the mites in the large common area. Even a giant tick lay dead on the floor. I didn’t know what to think at that moment. I was angry. I knew I shouldn’t be but here they were, in the den of the mites but they had gone another way. They could have been there to help. We could have saved their lives. It was all I could say, just simply “They’re dead, and we’re burying them properly.”
We made our way out of the den, and only more horror met us outside. Jihad’s body was on the ground. Dead. Kressle was missing as well. We stayed near the tree for a while. The others were reveling in their gold and success in battle but I wasn’t happy. We dug proper graves for our companions and I slept terribly that night. The next day I was informed as to what had happened. They heard us cry out from the first room, but on their way down they took the other direction through the den. They had encountered four worms and two rooms of many mites, but they were better at combat than we were. They easily made their way through. They had even found the dragon statue and a list of things that the mites and kobolds were fighting over. That’s when something caught my eye, a human-sized gold ring. Taking the day to pray and recover from battle, I thought about what was to come. Jihad was dead, Kressle was missing, many questions were left unanswered and I hope to find answers soon.